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Meg Whitman's Husband: It's "Possible" I Saw Letter


California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, center, and her husband Griff Harsh, listen to a question a news conference in Santa Monica, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Griff Harsh, the husband of California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, acknowledged in a statement on Thursday that "it is possible" he received and wrote notes on a letter from the Social Security Administration regarding his former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, though he denies any implication of associated wrongdoing.

"While I honestly do not recall receiving this letter, as it was sent to me seven years ago, I can say it is possible that I would've scratched a follow up note on a letter like this, which is a request for information to make certain Nicky received her Social Security benefits and W-2 tax refund for withheld wages," Harsh said in the statement.

Whitman and Harsh have come under intense scrutiny in recent days, after the couple's former housekeeper publicly accused the two of treating her harshly and knowingly employing her as an undocumented immigrant. Whitman denied the claims in a press conference yesterday and saidshe and her husband "never received those letters."

In a press conference held directly following that of Whitman, Diaz Santillan's lawyer, Gloria Allred, unveiled a letter she claimed proved that Whitman and Harsh were aware of their employee's immigration status. She also said that a handwritten note on the letter, reading "Nicky, please check this, thanks," was Harsh's writing.

But while Harsh admits that may be the case, he argues that the letter held no indication of Diaz Santillan's immigration status. "It is important to note what this letter actually says: 'this letter makes no statement about your employee's immigration status,'" he said in the statement. "Since we believed her to be legal, I would have had no reason to suspect that she would not have filled it in and done what was needed to secure her benefits."

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Diaz Santillan, who worked as a part-time housekeeper for the Whitman-Harsh household for nine years, was fired in 2009 when she told them she was working in the country illegally and asked for their help acquiring legal status. During her remarks yesterday, Whitman said she was "surprised and shocked" when she learned of her employee's status - and said she would be willing to take a polygraph test to prove it.

Since then, talk radio hosts for Clear Channel KFI-A/Los Angeles John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou have offered to take her up on that proposition.

In the meantime, Whitman's Democratic rival Jerry Brown - whom Whitman has repeatedly targeted as a conspirator behind the accusations against her - issued a statement through his campaign questioning Whitman's ethical credibility, and expressing the hope Diaz Santillan would be treated with "respect and dignity as this story unfolds."

"Once again, Meg Whitman has shown that she thinks the rules don't apply to her," the statement says. "After more than a year of Whitman demanding immigration policy that 'holds employers accountable,' we learn that accountability doesn't extend to her own actions."

Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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